TRINIDAD and Tobago’s designation as the co-chair of negotiations on climate-linked loss and damage at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid is an opportunity for us to play a prominent role in this matter, as a season of change continues to energise the international community on this crucial issue.
The conference, otherwise known as COP25 because it is the 25th conference on this theme, brings together leaders, climate officials, non-governmental organisations, youth bodies, grassroots movements, and other non-state actors to respond to the climate emergency. Countries have been using the talks to update their climate plans in line with the Paris Agreement. It’s a moment to ensure everyone is aware of the 2020 calendar and that homework is being done.
Unfortunately, however, there are indicators that not all are being diligent in this regard. Already at the conference anxiety has been expressed over the continued push to invest in new oil and gas extraction, despite the need to cut emissions to 1.5 degrees C. Approximately US$1.4 trillion is to be invested in the US, Canada, Norway, Argentina and several other countries. Good, perhaps, in the short run for these economies, bad in the long run given the peril we now face.
Climate science is clear: the world faces a massive ecological and humanitarian crisis.
The recently-concluded wet season provided us with tangible demonstrations of the erratic patterns that are wrecking our capacity to manage food production and coastal preservation. On the one hand we experienced close encounters with dangerous storm systems. On the other hand, the season was not wet enough to assuage concerns about water reservoir levels, paving the way for what could be a crisis this dry season.
Caribbean and Pacific nations, as well as the Alliance of Small Island States, have used the ongoing conference to team up.
Co-chair Kishan Kumarsingh, head of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit of the Ministry of Planning, has also played a key role in drafting and securing support for the Paris Agreement in its preparatory stages, demonstrating how this country already has a solid track record when it comes to technocratic engagement with these issues. What’s required now is the fulfilment of our own goals when it comes to cutting emissions by 15 per cent and civil society engagement to raise awareness on the part of citizens of why this issue should be on the political front burner.
The Planning Ministry’s announcement yesterday of a new solar park at Piarco International Airport, funded by a European Union grant, is also another important milestone. It should be the start of a new wave of power-saving measures across state-owned buildings as we seek to manage our resources in the difficult season ahead.